Electoral pact ‘could hand Keir Starmer the keys to Number 10’

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Sir Keir Starmer and Sir Ed Davey - Imageplotter/Alamy
Sir Keir Starmer and Sir Ed Davey - Imageplotter/Alamy

A pact between Labour and the Liberal Democrats at the next general election would make Sir Keir Starmer prime minister without the need for SNP support, an analysis has found.

Labour would be reliant on the SNP to form a government if all parties ran traditional campaigns, meaning they may have to agree to a second Scottish independence referendum.

But a survey of 10,000 voters showed that a formal arrangement between Labour and the Liberal Democrats would see both win enough seats for Sir Keir to enter Downing Street if they struck a deal.

The research, carried out at a constituency level, was commissioned and published by Best for Britain, a campaign group initially founded to oppose Brexit.

If no alliances were formed between Left-wing parties, Labour would win 307 seats, the Tories 261, the SNP 52, the Liberal Democrats seven, Plaid Cymru four and the Greens one based on current national opinion polling trends.

The SNP would therefore hold the balance of power and narrow Labour's optionsto a full coalition, a confidence and supply agreement or a minority government.

Nicola Sturgeon - Michal Wachucik/PA Wire
Nicola Sturgeon - Michal Wachucik/PA Wire

However, if Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party were to agree to stand down candidates where this would maximise the chances of beating the Conservatives, Labour would no longer need the SNP to govern.

The party would win 323 seats in this scenario and the Liberal Democrats 13, taking their combined total over the 325 threshold for a simple majority.

Boris Johnson is projected by polling to lose his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency seat in every scenario, while a progressive alliance would also put the seats of Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, and Penny Mordaunt, an international trade minister, at risk.

Ahead of the 2019 general election, Nigel Farage, then the Brexit Party leader, announced that he would not field candidates in 317 Conservative seats amid concerns that doing so would enable the election of Liberal Democrat candidates if the Right-wing vote was split.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, suggested people would be inclined to vote tactically at the next election and urged her party to be "honest" about where it has a realistic chance of success and where it could split Labour's vote share.

Speaking to The Observer, which published the findings, Ms Moran said: "In an election where the opposition vote is split, many voters will want to back the candidate who is most likely to win and deliver change.

"To this end, we must be honest with each other about the situation in each constituency and ensure that the voters have the information they need to lock the Tories out of power."

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon - Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon - Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Ahead of the local elections on May 5, Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, and Sir Ed Davey, his Liberal Democrat counterpart, denied suggestions by Oliver Dowden, the Conservative chairman, that there was a "secret Labour/Lib Dems election pact" in place.

Mr Dowden noted that Labour stood candidates in 61 per cent of seats in the South West compared to 97 per cent in 2018, and 88 per cent in the south east compared to the previous figure of 99 per cent.

Sir Keir told Sky News: "There is no pact, everybody knows there is no pact," while Sir Ed said: "There is no pact now, there is not going to be a pact in the future."

Analysis by The Telegraph prior to the May 5 elections found that hundreds of Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates were running unopposed by the other party in dozens of Conservative target councils.

Meanwhile, Labour has chosen Simon Lightwood, a member of its National Policy Forum and an NHS worker, as its candidate for the forthcoming Wakefield by-election, sparked by the departure of ex-Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan.

The outgoing executive committee of the Wakefield Labour Party walked out of the final selection meeting on Sunday, claiming the candidate selection process had been "anti-democratic" and Mr Lightwood was "parachuted in" by Sir Keir's office.

Labour insists its "fantastic candidates" have "strong connections to the local community".

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